The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 22, 2012

Note to whiny traveler: Relax and sit a spell

THE BACK PORCH: By Nerissa Young
Register-Herald Columnist

— I love West Virginia.

During my occupational sojourn to Oklahoma a decade ago, I regularly prayed, “Please, God, don’t let me die out here.”

Once I have crossed over, it’s doubtful whether it will matter to me where I am planted, but on this side of eternity, I take comfort in believing I will rest better under West Virginia sod.

I was waiting for a flight out of Yeager Airport on Wednesday and listening to a fellow complain about our little airport.

He said his travel plans had never been interfered with at other airports the way they had been interfered with in Charleston. He complained about the lack of dining options. He complained that no dining options were available once a passenger went through security. To eat at the only restaurant, passengers have to leave the secured area, eat and go back through security. He complained about travel delays.

He is a business traveler who lives 1-1/2 hours north of Grand Rapids, Mich. I’ve been to parts of Michigan. That right there explains most of his grumpiness. The rest is what Daddy would describe as being “a typical Northerner.”

I almost walked over to him and said, “Excuse me, but the things you’re complaining about are the things we like about this airport.”

Yeager is a small hometown airport. It’s uncomplicated, which is why I’d rather fly out of it than a larger airport. Parking is easy and near the terminal, security lines are short and the people are friendly. Sitting in an airport isn’t exactly the high point of any excursion, so if I’m going to sit in a nondescript place waiting for a plane, it may as well be Yeager.

The only restaurant is a local chain owned by a native West Virginian. And people in West Virginia have sense enough to know to get the food first. No matter what happens next, get the food first. Besides, the gift shop inside security offers hot dogs and microwavable biscuits. What more could a person need?

Here’s what I wish I’d said to Mr. One and a Half Hours North of Grand Rapids:

“Buddy, you may not like our airport, but let me tell you a little bit about what’s outside it.

If you trade vehicles, you don’t have to tell anybody. They’ll know it by the time you get the new one parked.

Further, if you’re broke down by the side of the road because you didn’t trade vehicles in time, at least two people will stop to help and won’t leave until they’ve found a way to get you on your way.

We call our governor by his first and middle names.

About anywhere you go, you’ll find a military veteran. Although the state is small in geography and population, West Virginians have the highest per capita rate of military service in the nation, so there’s a good chance a West Virginian died so you could have the right to complain.

We don’t have any professional sports franchises, so we treat our high school teams like college teams and our college teams like pro teams. Maybe that puts too much pressure on our kids, but at least they know we support them.

We don’t have a lot of worldly goods, but we are quick to share what we do have with others because we know someone is worse off than we are. We know them by name and couldn’t eat our own supper if we didn’t think they had theirs.

We are proud, hard working and largely self-sustaining. We try to do the right thing because that’s how we were raised and because most of us believe that one day we’ll stand before the Lord and have to give an account.

And yeah, friend, we do things differently here in the Mountain State — even in our airports — because, well, this is West Virginia and we’ve always done things our own way.”

That’s what I wish I’d said to Mr. One and a Half Hours North of Grand Rapids.

About that time, this announcement came over the public-address system:

“If you are the owner of a red Ford Focus parked by the terminal AND in a crosswalk, you need to move it immediately. You’re about to get a ticket. The officer is heading that way in about 25 seconds.”

Wonder if they do that in Grand Rapids.

I love West Virginia.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail:

© 2012 by Nerissa Young